Released On 21st Jan 2015
Former Castle School teacher sentenced to 12 months imprisonment
Simon Parsons, 52 year old former head of drama at the Castle School in Thornbury near Bristol was sentenced on 20th January at Bristol Crown Court to 12 months imprisonment by Judge Neil Ford QC.
Parsons had been a teacher all his professional life and was held in high esteem by many of his pupils. However, Parsons formed an attachment to a teenage pupil which developed into a full blown sexual relationship. The evidence from the Court confirmed that there was a build-up to the relationship and Parsons would take her out to meals and on trips to the theatre. As the relationship developed, the teacher had sex with his victim at local hotels and at his home. In evidence, the Court heard that Parsons felt confident enough to have sex with his victim at the Castle school.
The relationship was quite improper but at first the victim was reluctant to come forward as she thought maybe it was her fault that this happened. This is a very common reaction by victims who have been "groomed". Grooming almost always involves an older and manipulative adult who sets out to "control" a younger and impressionable victim, forcing the victim into not only carrying on a sexual relationship but also providing the pretext of self-blame for not reporting it.
Indeed, Parsons may never have been caught but for the fact that he fathered a child with his victim. Parsons was then identified as the child's father and the extent of the relationship started to unfold. In 2014, the complainant finally felt strong enough to report the matter to police. No doubt she thought it was important his actions were stopped for the protection of other children. In fact, unbeknown to her, in 2011 her mother had already raised concerns to the then headteacher at Castle School about the relationship between Parsons and her daughter, but no action was taken by the school. At that time Parsons was still teaching and the vicitms mother was concerned that other pupils may suffer the same plight as her daughter.
Parsons was arrested last year and he accepted the relationship was improper and admitted having intercourse with the victim from when she was 17.
Parsons was charged with six counts of sexual activity involving the abuse of a position of trust. This is an offence created by the Sexual Offences act 2003. Although not exclusively directed at teachers, it is designed to stop adults such as teachers and others who are in a position of authority and trust from preying upon younger and vulnerable victims in their care.
To his credit Parsons pleaded guilty to five of the offences at an early stage but on a limited basis of plea. He will have received credit from the sentencing Judge for an early guilty plea and the Judge will have had regard to Parsons’ basis of plea when considering the appropriate sentence.
In sentencing the judge said of Parsons:-
“You were a mature married man with a child of your own. She was your pupil living at home with her parents. You hid your actions from your wife but she became aware of them. You didn't see the girl as a victim of unlawful or inappropriate behaviour but you now know that your behaviour has a real impact upon her. I am sure that she is right when she describes the consequences of your actions as resulting in her feeling confused and lost.
She said she was let down by a teacher whom she looked up to and trusted. Pupils from time to time will find themselves attracted teachers. A teacher, of course, has a duty to ensure that he does not take advantage of that situation. It is important that the public appreciate that those who behave as you have will receive immediate custodial sentences."
Parsons was sentenced to 1 year immediate custody, banned from working with children and required to sign the sex offenders register. Although Parsons is likely to be released on 21 July 2015, his career as a teacher is over and he has heaped shame upon himself.
The victim does not escape the consequences of Parsons actions quite so easily. She has his child to look after and will always carry the memories of her ordeal at a school where she was entitled to feel safe and protected from this sort of behaviour. Vicitms of this nature invariably suffer long term psychological issues which can haunt them throughout their adult lives.
Samantha Robson of Robsonshaw Solicitors who is representing a victim in this case, made the observation that there may be other victims of Simon Parsons and she urges them to come forward. Samantha is the lead solicitor in a possible claim against Parsons and Castle school for compensation for the sexual abuse suffered by her client.
Samantha was interviewed by the Daily Mirror and local BBC News after the sentencing hearing.
Samantha has been representing victims of sexual abuse for the past 15 years and comments:
“It is often the case that adults who conduct improper and unlawful relationships rarely limit their activities to one victim. Frequently, there will be a number of victims who have all suffered similar ordeals. These victims may not come forward for fear they will be disbelieved and the natural worry that they will have two relive their memories all over again.
If there are any further victims of Parsons then they should come forward. Victims who confront their demons and have the courage to speak out often feel that the exercise is cathartic and helps them to recover. For the first time they have taken control of the situation and have unshackled themselves from what was possibly an abusive relationship. They may also be entitled to compensation which can assist with specialist treatment and help them with their recovery."
As Parsons has been convicted any new victims who come forward are unlikely to be required to give evidence at Crown Court. If you or a family member would like to speak to Samantha on a confidential basis please contact her on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01392 345333.